Create a package (tarball) for distribution

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This article assumes you want to download and build some software from the software's source code. It further assumes the source code is available as some tar file (a tar ball) and that the software source follows a common structure and comes with a common mechanism to build it.

That common structure needs to be a GNU build system, starting with

  • a configure script, made with
  • GNU autoconf and using
  • GNU automake and
  • GNU libtool.

Further the source code author must have used autoconf, automake correctly and in compliance with the GNU coding standards by keeping directory output variables in the Makefiles unexpanded. This allows to use make install and overriding install locations. A feature which is used later in this description to prepare for packaging.

Since there are many, many different software packages out there, there is no guarantee that the particular package can be build exactly as described here. There is no guarantee that it is packed as a tar file, and there is no guarantee that you have everything to build it. That's why many packages come with documentation! It might sound shocking, but it is a clever idea to read that one first. Often the documentation also explains what additional tools and libraries are needed to build the software, and how to fine-tune the build.

The remainder of this article further assumes you have all the common development tools installed

1) Download the source to a preferred place:

mkdir -p <compiling-folder> #I suggest to create a folder on /dev/hda3.../mnt/ on ppc-LS, /mnt/hda/ on the LS2
cd <compiling-folder>    
wget http://<download-location>/<app-source>

2) Untar the package - use xzvf if it has a tar.gz-extension (=.tgz) and xjvf if it has tar.bz2

tar xzvf <app-source>.tar.gz

3) change into the new directory

cd <app-source>

4) check which options are available for ./configure by executing

./configure --help

5) configure the application with the right prefix for the final destination (e.g. /usr/local), and not for your local temporary installation directory PACKAGE/usr/local. If you cross-compile you also need to point to the cross compiler, linker, assembler.

./configure --prefix=/usr/local CC=... ...

6) compile, but don't install the application


7) Become root


8) Clean and prepare the temporary installation directory structure to which the package will be temporarily installed before it is packed. This cleanup ensures that no left-overs from previous build attempts or accidentally moved files will be packaged, too. Warning: If you do this on the wrong directory, you might accidentally delete your whole Linux system ...

rm -rf PACKAGE # DANGER Don't do this withe the wrong directory!
# Create temporary version of the prefix directory
mkdir -p PACKAGE/usr/local

9) Install the compiled application afterwards to your temporary packaging directory, temporarily overriding the prefix setting for the installation only. This must not trigger a recompilation, and it won't if the software author has created the configure system correctly. It should keep path information already compiled into the application and related files. That is, the application should contain the final destination pathes, as set with --prefix=... with configure, while only the installation is redirected to our temporary packaging directory.

make install prefix=PACKAGE/usr/local

10) Continue as root, package the data up.
10a) For example, tar the file-structure up into a nice package

tar cvfz <appname>_<architecture>.tar.gz -C PACKAGE

where architecture is ppc for LS1/HG/HS, mips for the LS2 and arm9 for the LS Pro

10b) Or build an ipkg package. The following is only a rough sketch, check the ipkg documentation for details

ipkg-proto PACKAGE  # creates an initial prototype file
# edit prototype file
# create CONTROL files
# add entries for CONTROL files to prototype file
ipkg-mk -c  # build the package

Scripting some of the above steps might make sense, instead of typing the same commands again and again.